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Taiwan shares end almost flat after moving in narrow range

2019/02/19 18:05:26

Taipei, Feb. 19 (CNA) Shares in Taiwan closed little changed Tuesday after moving in a narrow range, as many investors remained cautious about the upcoming trade talks between the United States and China, dealers said.

Large cap stocks in the bellwether electronics sector appeared mixed, while buying in select old economy stocks, in particular in the cement and textile sectors, helped stabilize the broader market throughout the session, dealers said.

The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange (Taiex) ended up 6.98 points, or 0.07 percent, at 10,152.26, after moving between 10,143.15 and 10,173.47. Turnover totaled NT$101.39 billion (US$3.29 billion) during the session.

The market opened up 6.83 points on follow-through buying from the previous session when the Taiex closed 0.80 percent higher, breaching the 10,100 point mark.

On Tuesday, however, the buying appeared limited, with market heavyweights moving in ranged trade, dealers said.

With the help of cement and textile stocks, the main board held above its previous closing level for most of the session and ended above the nearest technical resistance of 10,148 points, an intraday high on Dec. 3, 2018, dealers added.

"Following its strong showing in recent sessions, the main board has turned technically healthier, in particular after the Taiex jumped past 10,148 points today," Concord Securities analyst Kerry Huang said. "But the thorny trade disputes between Washington and Beijing remained an issue in the global financial markets so it's not surprising that the local equity market took a pause today."

Despite hopes of a trade deal between the U.S. and China, investors preferred to stay cautious until the next round of trade talks open in Washington Feb. 21, Huang said.

The buying in the tech sector remained sluggish, which limited the daily turnover and prevented the broader market from making another breakthrough Tuesday, he said.

In the bellwether electronics sector, which closed up 0.01 percent, contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the most heavily weighted stock on the local market, fell 0.43 percent to close at NT$229.00 with 16.55 million shares changing hands as investors pocketed their gains from a day earlier.

TSMC gained 1.32 percent Monday despite its lowered first-quarter sales forecast as the market is anticipating that the chipmaker will issue a NT$9 cash dividend per share on its 2018 earnings, dealers said.

Also in the tech sector, Asustek Computer Inc. fell 0.88 percent to close at NT$226.00, flat panel maker Innolux shed 0.91 percent to end at NT$9.81, and iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. gained 1.41 percent to close at NT$72.00 after its chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) raised his stake in the company.

In the old economy sector, some stocks helped keep the Taiex above the previous closing level.

Among them, Taiwan Cement Corp. gained 1.76 percent to close at NT$37.55, Asia Cement Corp. rose 1.47 percent to end at NT$37.95, and textile maker Far Eastern New Century Corp. finished 1.49 percent higher at NT$30.70.

"In addition, while large cap stocks remained mixed, some small and medium-sized stocks posted strong gains, indicating that local players were returning to the market to pick up their favorites," Huang said.

Among the smaller stocks, Wistron Information Technology & Services Corp., an IT consulting and outsourcing services provider, gained 9.13 percent to close at NT$119.50, and Daxin Materials Corp., a maker of raw materials for flat panel production, rose by the daily maximum 10 percent to end at NT$108.00.

According to Taiex data, foreign investors bought a net NT$1.63 billion worth of shares on the main board Tuesday.

(By Frances Huang)